In September of 2017, several cheerleaders at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University “took a knee” before a home football game, expressing their solidarity with a nationwide protest against police brutality. One year later, reports WXIA, four of the cheerleaders have been cut from the team — and at least one of them believes she is being penalized specifically for having knelt during the national anthem.
The cheerleaders’ protest was controversial; KSU banned them from the pregame routine, only to backtrack and let them on the field. Even Georgia’s attorney general got involved, saying that the cheerleaders should be allowed to take a knee if they weren’t disrupting the game.
When approached by WXIA, KSU said that four of the cheerleaders did not make the squad this year because the competition was steeper. There are 52 spots available on the squad. Last year, 61 people tried out, according to the school. This year, there were more than 95 people who tried to make the cut. But, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Cobb County sheriff, Neil Warren, sent several text messages in which he bragged about having persuaded the KSU president to keep the kneeling cheerleaders off the field, which prompted student protests.
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) August 22, 2018
“While they are disappointed, they’ve accepted it and went on with their academic lives,” Davante Lewis, the spokesperson for the KSU cheerleading told WSB-TV.
But Toomia Dead, one of the cheerleaders who took a knee and did not secure a spot on the squad this season, said she believes she is being discriminated against for joining a protest that began with then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“I think it played a role because I know my skills, and I had the skills two years prior to that, so I know what I can do,” she told WXIA. “I know the people who made it. I know their skills and I know my skills. But I don’t think it was a skills-based thing. Not to say I’m amazing or anything, but I know my skills and what I had.”
Read the full story at WXIA.